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Multiple forms possible in morphology

From:Philip Newton <philip.newton@...>
Date:Saturday, February 10, 2007, 15:08
In a recent comment on a LiveJournal entry of mine, Paul Bennett mused
about what a cognate of Latin "bonus" would look like in German and
came up with " *das Zwenn (-es, -e) ".

One of my reactions was that I'd probably say "des Zwenns" rather than
"des Zwennes" -- but that I wouldn't consider the latter wrong: it'd
merely sound formal or maybe stilted or archaic.

I'd have a similar reaction to such forms as dative -e in words such
as "dem Kinde" or "dem Manne" -- I'd use those nearly only in fixed
expressions such as "das Kind im Manne" or "wie sag' ich's meinem
Kinde", but not in normal speech, e.g. "Bring das hier deinem Kind
mit" (not: *deinem Kinde) or "Weißt du den Namen von dem Mann da
drüben?" (not: *dem Manne).

Perhaps it's a bit like the subjunctive in English, which is nowadays
used most often in fixed expressions, for many speakers (e.g. "Be that
as it may").

That made me think about conlangs, though.

Do any of you have words which have more than one permissible form?
Differing, perhaps, in formality or style, with one being a bit more
stilted, or seeming a bit archaic?

I'm mostly looking for endings where one was simplified from the
other, rather than deliberate distinctions such as Japanese or Korean
honorific forms, or T/V distinctions, or the like.

Is one merely a phonetic simplification of the other? Or is one,
perhaps, an older form which is still considered acceptable, if a bit
old-fashioned? (For example, I read that in Latin, some words could
also be declined as in Old Latin, e.g. nom -os, acc -om, if desired.)

This is probably easiest for diachronic conlangs or other instances
where you have a list of sound changes from some earlier form, where
you could decide to keep an earlier form alongside a later form.

Ideas? Comments? Examples?

Philip Newton <philip.newton@...>


Amanda Babcock Furrow <langs@...>
Herman Miller <hmiller@...>
Roger Mills <rfmilly@...>
David J. Peterson <dedalvs@...>
Andreas Johansson <andjo@...>